I understood the Prime Minister yesterday to say that the policy was to employ as the greatest test the census of 1901 and to use the population of 1901. Would that be the main principle guiding that distribution in Saskatchewan ?
The strongest reason given for the distribution in Saskatchewan was the number of votes cast in the election of November, 1903, that number having preference over the number of voters on the list. That was the main principle applied in Alberta, and I presume exactly the same principle has been applied in Saskatchewan. I suppose there can be no question about that. Two seats are given to that portion of Athabaska which has been added to the province of Alberta. I understood the Prime Minister to say that the principal reason in his mind for giving two seats to that district was the great distances between the settlements which made it physically impossible for one man to cover the whole district and 254
to properly represent it. Could I have an answer to that question ?
iMr. OLIVER. Between the settlement at Lesser Slave lake and the settlement at Peace River, which is the nearest point at which they approach until they finally join, the distance is between 90 and 100 miles, and from that they diverge to a distance of about 200 miles apart, and finally they come together after a considerable distance.
I ask this question to call attention to the fact among the electoral districts of the legislative assembly we have had one district electing a single member which I think would comprise a greater area than the settlements in the district of Athabaska, to which it is proposed now to give two members. I speak of the district of Kinistino, which, roughly speaking, is over 300 miles from east to west and about 210 miles from north to south. But there las been no difficulty in holding an election for that district. It had 082 votes cast at the last election, a larger number than I think will be cast in these tw.o constituencies in Athabaska at the first election for the new legislature, probably twice as many, i do not know what map the Prime Minister has before him, but I notice that in most of the maps which have been supplied by this government the old distribution of seats was given, which does not contain the district of Kinistino as it exists at present. The old maps give the old distribution which was in force before 1902, when a redistribution was made by the legislative assembly. I have one of the new maps, and I can assure him that the figures I have given as to the distance are practically correct. There has been no practical difficulty in that large district. The polls were held at very extreme distances, and the proclamation. I think, had to be delated for a fortnight before all the returns could be obtained.
Still that does not alter the fact that we had a very large district, as large no doubt as the new district, which it is now proposed to divide into two. The Prime Minister has stated that the whole dispute over the distribution of seats in the province of Alberta was due to the rivalry btween the cities of Edmonton and Calgary.
Hon. members who endorse that statement, I presume, mean to convey their opinion that Edmonton is the proper place for the capital of the new province. More than that I take their endorsation to mean an endorsation of the attempt that is being made to force that opinion upon the people of the new province, who should be free to make the choice for themselves. But I may say that is not the reason which causes me to offer strong opposition to this distribution. The figures given by the Prime Minister himself are sufficient to convince me, and I think will be sufficient to convince any man who looks at this question from an independent point of view, that there is an unfair distribution of seats, even taking the votes cast as a basis, which i do not consider is a fair basis at all. But even taking that basis, which the Prime Minister considers the fairest, we find he is giving to the northern seats 10 per cent more representation than to the southern seats. And taking the basis of the names on the voters' list, he is giving to the northern portion of Alberta an advantage of 22 per cent over the seats in the southern portion, dividing the line near Red Deer.